Garage fire in Paraparaumu highlights importance of smoke detectors

Damage caused by fire in the garage.

You have a smoke detector in the living room, kitchen, hallway, bedrooms, but what about in the garage?

This is not the kind of place you would automatically think of to install a smoke detector.

Roslyn King, of Ross Grove, Paraparaumu, will be the first to say that a smoke detector in the garage is a really good idea.

A fire broke out in Roslyn’s garage, which is under her house, the day before the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown last month.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the blaze, but its impact was devastating.

Fire damage.
Fire damage.

The fire caused extensive damage and the whole house may have to be demolished.

Roslyn was home alone at night watching TV when she first smelled smoke, prompting her to check her electric blanket.

“I’m still a little nervous about the electric blankets so I checked, and it was okay, so I thought it was just my imagination.”

Later that evening, she decided to jump into her thermal pool – but any idea of ​​a relaxing swim quickly changed.

The smell of smoke was much stronger, prompting her to come out of the hot water to investigate.

“I never thought it would come from home.”

With a dressing gown wrapped around her and a cell phone in one hand, she was walking around the house.

“I walked down my driveway and didn’t see a chimney with smoke coming out, but when I turned around I saw flames coming out of the vents in the garage.

“I dialed 111 and the fire department arrived very quickly.”

Although it was a nerve-wracking experience, Roslyn said she was remarkably controlled and clearly remembered the fire safety advertisements on TV about not entering the house.

“You don’t realize how many of these fire safety announcements you are putting in until you experience them.”

Not that she would have gone inside.

“The smoke was incredibly dense and you couldn’t breathe it. It was horrible.”

Aftermath of fire.
Aftermath of fire.

After contacting emergency services, she called her daughter in Plimmerton as the enormity of what was going on sank.

“I kept saying ‘the house is on fire’.

“I felt a little silly to continue like this.”

Her husband, who was in Invercargill due to work commitments, was contacted with the grim news.

Much was lost in the fire, including 30 years of restoration equipment, valuable photographs, a car and more.

“It probably totaled the house to be honest.

“The wooden posts supporting the house are all really charred as well as the beams.”

Although the damage was significant, it could have been much worse.

Fortunately, when Roslyn and her husband moved into the house, they put insulation between the garage and the house, which kept the fire from spreading quickly.

“It was very close to taking the whole house.”

And they were lucky that the gas cylinders on the barbecues that were in the garage did not explode.

Oddly, the only thing not burning in the garage was a pile of dry firewood.

“How ironic.

The consequences meant that the house was “full of soot”.

“These are not things you can dust, you have to scrub them.

“And everything stank.

“I have never done so much laundry in my life.”

Roslyn, who has been in charge of food and beverage at Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club for about eight months, said that although there was a smoke and fire detection system in the house, there was nothing in the garage.

Roslyn King.  Photo / David Haxton
Roslyn King. Photo / David Haxton

“It took a long time for the smoke to rise in the house.

“In fact, it went more towards my neighbor’s house because it was quite windy.

“It took a while, after I called 111, for the sensors in the house to go off.”

Roslyn said many people were shocked by the fire, “especially with the idea of ​​a garage going up.”

Having a smoke alarm in the garage was “absolutely important, especially if it’s under your apartment,” she said.

“This is a very important message that I would like to get across.”

She was very grateful to her neighbors in the cul-de-sac who had been very helpful at night and provided continued support.

“It’s nice to be part of a community that is very caring.”

Roslyn, who believes the fire may have started because of an electrical fault, said the house was insured but the contents were not.

“But it’s just stuff.

“I was not injured, our two cats are alive, the fish have lived and the three chickens that were in a hen house attached to the house have not been roasted.

“It’s still a big drawback.”

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